Hot Air: Seasons

Eating my morning giant pancake at Muddy Boots this AM. A couple, probably pushing 60, sits at the table to my left. They’re both wearing hats and jackets — October or November wear. The woman, in fact, has a light scarf tied around her neck.

August, Brown County

The NOAA tells me its 66º in Bloomington, so it can’t be much more than two or three degrees lower here in Nashville, if anything. Forecast high for today: 76º.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say the couple is overreacting. Of course, I’m the kind of guy who, should the temp drop to 35º on a late September night, will insist on wearing shorts because — goddamnit — I’m not going to let go of summer just yet!

Choice?

I was listening to the Cubs game on the car radio yesterday afternoon, shuttling between the library, Rural King, and the Kroger Theme Park. when, between innings, a commercial came on for Northwestern Hospital.

It was one of those satisfied customer ads where the guy earnestly — and studiously unprofessionally — tells a tale from the bottom of his heart. He’d had some problem with said heart — arrhythmia, I think — and the doctors at Northwestern hooked him up to some machine and prescribed some drugs and, next thing he knew, he was A-OK. Northwestern, he concluded, was a great place where they don’t treat the patient like a number. Or something like that.

And it occurred to me: When does one choose which hospital one goes to? If it’s an emergency, you’re brought to the nearest hospital. That’s the way the ambulance system works. If your doctor says you have to get your appendix sliced out, she’ll book you into the hospital where she has admitting privileges. She doesn’t ask your where you want to go. She’s not a travel agent.

This Ain’t Med School

Now, Northwestern hospital paid out a ton of dough to find an ad agency, writer, director, talent booker, audio geek, caterer, and highly-trained, experienced voiceover guy who sounds like your next door neighbor. Then the ad agency had to book the ad. Trust me, the Cubs radio network charges honest money for spots now that the team is the defending World Series champion. And by honest I mean it costs gobs of money for announcers Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer to even think about your company as they broadcast the games. I tried to get CBS Chicago’s rate card but the outfit holds on to that info as though it’s America’s nuclear launch code. Just assume CBS charges Northwestern enough per year to cover plenty of heart treatments such as the earnest guy claimed he had done there.

And isn’t that the damnedest thing about this holy land’s for-profit health care industry? It’s as ridiculous as all those big pharmaceutical companies taking out national television ads beseeching you to ask your doctor about, say, Etanercept (trade name, Enbrel™).

What in the holy hell is Entanercept? Or Enbrel? And why in the holy hell would I have the crust to suggest to my doctor what cutting edge medication she should prescribe for my achy joints?

And the TV nets charge way more than any regional radio network does. It all ads up when you get your hospital bill or hand over your credit card at the pharmacy.

Free market, my foot.

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